Alan N. Shapiro, Visiting Professor in Transdisciplinary Design, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, Germany

Blog and project archive about transdisciplinary design, media theory and creative coding

The Technological Herbarium, by Gianna Maria Gatti

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Gianna Maria Gatti’s book The Technological Herbarium (subtitled: “Vegetable Nature and New Technologies in Art Between the Second and Third Millennia”) is a study of “interdisciplinary” works of art that exemplify the increasing importance of science and technology in artistic creation. Her analysis, however, goes beyond that of a journalistic or curatorial survey of artworks. Her work embodies the invention of a strong philosophical concept that enables the glimpsing – in the coming together of nature and new technologies in the domain of art – of a new real. Gatti engages in a wide-ranging refl ection on non-human life-forms. What is the identity of living beings which are Other than human? In pursuing this question, her two principal objects of inquiry are the vegetable kingdom and Artificial Life. She contemplates in a single conceptual framework the two extremes of the most ancient eons-old lifeforms produced by Nature and the newest forms of life produced by our most advanced contemporary Technology. Gatti’s research is a profound reflection not only on art’s brush with computer technologies, but also on biology, deep ecology, the existent, the living organism, life itself. It is an Enlightened meditation on and recognition of the mutually beneficial potential relationship between the Natural and the Artificial, a significant departure from the critical thinking that defends the “authenticity” of the former against the “imposture” of the latter. The twenty-five or so artworks investigated by Gatti are in dialogue with every field of scientific knowledge. The artists whose creations are brought together in her Herbarium have confronted the theme of vegetable nature while at the same time working with new technologies and new media. The perceptual-motoric-tactile dimension of embodiment is restored to equal standing with the symbolic-rational dimension emphasized by traditional art. The artist who utilizes information technologies designs “a semi-living entity, a work which in fact is ‘open’, since its outcome is not predefi ned by the artist, but is rather realized through the interventions and actions of the user” (Gianna Maria Gatti).

Gianna Maria Gatti
The Technological Herbarium (246 Pages)
AVINUS Press, Berlin

edited, translated from the Italian, and with a preface by Alan N. Shapiro
with 41 color prints

ISBN-10: 3869380128

ISBN-13: 978-3869380124

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